The Colombian government’s “4G Toll Road Concession Program” is the largest project in Latin America for the development of the road infrastructure, involving the expansion or maintenance of about 7,000 kilometer of roads as well as the erection of new bridges. On the east-west route from Ibagué to Cajamarca, Mincivil S.A. is relying on the drilling rig LB 36 from Liebherr.

One section of the large-scale construction project is in the Andes in West Colombia. In direct proximity is the Nevado del Tolima, beside the Nevado del Ruiz and the Nevado de Santa Isabel, one of the three largest volcanoes in the “Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados.” A two-lane road is being built on the 35 kilometer long route between Ibagué and Cajamarca and will include 40 bridges made of concrete elements. Upon completion, it is estimated that the distance will be able to be covered in half the time that what it currently takes.

Mincivil is handling the installation of the bridge piles in Ibagué. Using the Kelly drilling method, Liebherr’s LB 36 rig is installing piles with diameters of 1500 mm and average depths of 30 m. The number of piles varies according to the design of the bridge. Depending on the soil conditions, the LB 36 has a daily performance of 10 to 15 m drilling depth.

The proximity of the Nevado del Tolima is clearly noticeable on the jobsite. Due to the close vicinity of the volcano, the soil consists of a hard rock layer and is extremely difficult to crack. A task which is a little too ambitious for many drilling rigs. It would seem they bow in awe of the 5220 m high volcano. Daniel Rodriguez, foundation unit business manager at Mincivil, has already applied diverse deep foundation equipment.

“Only Liebherr comes into consideration with such hard soil conditions,” Rodriguez says.

Not only is the Kelly drilling a challenge for man and machine, but in consideration of the extremely rough terrain, it is a remarkable feat itself that Mincivil ever managed to transport the LB 36 to the jobsite. It’s not possible everywhere without astronomical costs and the only alternative is to install the piles laboriously and with a great deal of hard work by hand, where a tremendous effort would achieve roughly 1.5 m per day. Of course, the comparison between them and an LB 36, with a daily performance which is 10 times higher, is not fair. It shows, however, just how important reliable and high performance machines are for the completion of such large-scale projects.

The go-ahead for the construction project was in April 2016. According to plan, completion should be in 2024. An investment of COP 1,810,392,000,000 (~EUR 528 million) is being made for the realization of this project.

Liebherr’s product range includes earthmoving and material handling machinery, mining equipment, mobile cranes, construction cranes, machine tools and automation systems as well as high-performance components for mechanical, hydraulic and electrical drive and control technology. For more information, go to